Quantum computers have long been dubbed as the nemesis of the whole cryptocurrency industry.
Cryptocurrencies represent a piece of software that relies on the security of the blockchain to store or use the respective digital assets. If the security rules are in any way compromised, then the software becomes unreliable and prone to attacks from hackers.
This is, in a nutshell, the risk quantum computers can pose to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Due to their overwhelming advantage in computing speed, quantum computers could theoretically be used to disrupt the activity not only of a decentralized system but of any software using any kind of encryption.
While quantum computers still have some way to go to becoming mainstream, there are cryptocurrency ledgers built to be inherently quantum-resistant. One of them is Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL). In an interview with Blokt, Lead Business Strategist at QRL, Adam Koltun warns that current cryptographic methods could be broken by quantum computers.
Specifically, the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), used by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to secure funds will be quickly broken once a quantum computer powerful enough is developed:
“While there is not currently a quantum computer powerful enough to crack Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm, the question is one of ‘when’ not one of ‘if’. It is only a matter of time, and when it comes to blockchain networks, which are supposed to be persistent and accurate, preemptive security upgrades always make sense.”
QRL on the other side, as Koltun explains, already uses quantum-resistant signatures like the Winternitz One Time Signatures (WOTS+) which use one-way functions called hashes. These hash-based signatures are then wrapped in a Merkle tree, in a scheme known on QRL as the Extended Merkle Signature Scheme (XMSS), which allows users to reuse addresses.
While QRL offers quantum-proof security at the base layer, the team aims to attract developers that can build on top of the network and enjoy the security benefits of QRL.
QRL’s codebase is open-source and already has extensive documentation to enable an easy development process for contributors. Furthermore, QRL is based on widely known programming languages making the on-boarding process easy.
Koltun highlighted the benefits QRL can offer to application developers:
“Additionally, we believe that our quantum resistant security is attractive to secondary layer developers, as it means that their work will be protected for years to come and they will not have to pick up and go rebuild on another chain should there be a sudden advancement in quantum computing.”
Expanding on its quantum-resistant feature, the QRL community has recently called for implementing support of security tokens. Commenting on the community proposal, Koltun explains:
“The future of security tokens, like many other elements of the current cryptocurrency landscape, is somewhat uncertain. Partially, this is due to the various regulators and jurisdictions at play when we discuss securities, tokens or otherwise. However, any token, security tokens included, benefits from quantum resistance.”
Lately, QRL has been focusing on adding greater functionality and utility to its blockchain, through strategic collaborations, such as the integration with Keybase and by expanding the tools and documentation for QRL developers.